People ask me all the time (and by all the time, I mean never), “Liz, what is your favorite grammatical/punctuational structure?” It’s hard to narrow it down to just one (although you’re probably already aware of my love for the Oxford comma), but if I happened to be in a life-or-death of language situation, it would probably be the parenthetical statement.
I bet you already figured that out.
English is full of words that seem the same, but have subtle differences in their spelling and usage. These tricky words seem designed specifically to trip you up. Recently, we tackled ensure vs. insure. Today, let’s take on another vocabulary conundrum: upwards or upward? Toward or towards?
Or does it even matter?
Here’s a problem I’ve encountered a lot: the confusion of ensure vs. insure. But wait, those two words are the same, right? Well . . . kind of, but not exactly.
Let’s un-muddle them, shall we?
Every time I hear the word “ensure,” I think of the high-protein flavored beverage that I will never drink. But we’re going to use this ingestible product to help you remember how to use ensure. Win-win (kind of).
You know what’s really fun to edit? Dangling participles. What’s a participle? Glad you asked.
A participle is an adjective form of a verb, usually formed by adding the suffix –ing to the verb. For example, you might go for a light 15k in your running shoes. Or your sister might be screaming because she burned herself with her curling iron. Make sense?
Let’s take a closer look and find out where these participles go wrong.
You’ve probably heard people decry the use of the passive voice. “Avoid it at all costs!” they say. That’s a little misleading; the passive voice isn’t always bad.
However, you must understand what it is and learn to recognize it so you can choose how to use it effectively.